Derby Boab Festival

In 1959 only five horses turned out for the Derby races.  Things looked bleak for the Club Hotel, (later burnt down in 1965) and publican Arthur Nicholls decided some action had to be taken to revive what had been a major trading day of the year.

In March 1960, a public meeting was called and Arthur Nicholls suggested that Derby needed a Festival.  Frank Hardy, the Headmaster at the time, went along and sat at the back of a large crowd, because he was curious, he did not want a position on the inaugural committee.  After being elected President, (this still occurs today), he decided the festival needed a name.  By chance, another man in attendance said that upon entering Derby, it was the unique trees that had the greatest impact on him – hence the name, “Boab Festival”.

The 1960 committee’s objectives were to provide amenities, entertainment and publicity for the town and its surrounding areas.  It was one of the first of its kind in the State (NOTE Geraldton’s Sunshine Festival started in 1959), and its success encouraged other towns to follow suit.

The Boab Festival has changed direction over the years.  Originally held late September and early October, it is now occurs doing the July School Holidays.

Some events have changed over the years, but some are still perennial favourites such as the Parade of Floats and on occasions horse racing, Events from past years include a Rodeo and bushman’s Carnival, Derby Bicycle Club Races and an Athletic Carnival.

Events today include the Kimberley Art and Photographic Prize, Float Parade and Mardi Gras, a Boab Quest Competition, the Mowanjum Festival, a Basketball Carnival to name but a few.

To find out more about the Boab Festival at Derby, visit their website. 

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